President’s column – 11 May 2021

In tonight’s Federal Budget, local governments welcome that the Morrison Federal Government has listened to ALGA’s advocacy, investing in local government in response to our calls for a locally-led economic recovery for Australia.

The Federal Budget includes several wins for Australian councils and our communities, including:

Community Infrastructure

  • New funding for $1 billion towards Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI), with existing funds extend to 30 June, 2023. Councils will be able to access this new $1 billion funding from 31 January 2022;
  • $250 million in new funding for Building Better Regions (BBRF)  – $50 million more than previous allocations, and the largest allocation for a BBRF round to date; and
  • The payment of $1.3 billion of Financial Assistance Grants will be prepaid, as it has in recent years.

Water, Disaster Recovery and Resilience

  • A new National Recovery and Resilience Agency, with $600 million to invest in a new program of disaster preparation and mitigation;  
  • $172.5 million over four years from 2020-21 for local governments and those involved in long-term drought resilience and preparedness activities, as part of the Future Drought Fund
  • $98.0 million over three years for National Water Grid projects, including:
    • $51.2 million for Eurobodalla Southern Storage, New South Wales
    • $11.1 million for Lostock Dam to Glennies Creek Dam Pipeline, New South Wales
    • $11.0 million for Werribee Irrigation District Modernisation (Stage 4 and 5), Victoria
    • an additional $7.5 million for Rookwood Weir, Queensland ($183.6 million in total), and
    • $5.5 million for Recycled Water on the Bellarine, Victoria.

Recycling and Waste Management

  • $5.9 million over four years to support recycling as part of the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund;
  • $59.8 million over four years to deliver grants to support a Food Waste for Healthy Soils Fund to enhance existing organic waste and processing infrastructure;
  • $7.2 million over four years to deliver a community and education program on the benefits of processed organic waste.

South Australian Roads

  • Supplementary Local Roads Funding for South Australia – $40 million over two years to South Australia to address the disadvantage experienced by their local councils in maintaining and upgrading their local road networks.

This Budget announcement of an additional $1 billion to extend the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) Program to 2023, reaffirms the Federal Government’s belief in local government’s ability to unlock job-creating local projects.

As partners of the Commonwealth through Stages 1 and 2 of the LRCI Program, Australia’s 537 councils have kept local businesses solvent, delivered new jobs and opportunities, and helped future proof our communities.

This new infrastructure funding will prioritise projects that can be undertaken quickly, to maximise a locally led economic recovery from COVID.

Councils, therefore, need to quickly progress further projects to the “shove-ready” stage.

The $250 million of new funding for the Building Better Regions Fund will be essential to boosting the economies of regions across Australia, with 80 percent directed to non-metropolitan councils.

Whilst we welcome that the Federal Government is bringing forward the first two instalments of the estimated 2021-22 Federal Assistance grant funding, a prepayment of $1.3 billion, we will continue to strongly advocate for a significant increase of funding – to 1 per cent of Commonwealth GDP – for the future. It is disappointing this has not been delivered in tonight’s Federal Budget.

Our capacity to lead a locally-led economic and social recovery from COVID has never been in doubt – and I welcome the Federal Government’s recognition of this in tonight’s Federal Budget.

This Budget will provide us with further means to create more jobs and enable full and lasting recovery – and in the process add weight to our claims to be included in National Cabinet.

 Thank you to those Mayors, councilors and council staff who met with their local members, advocating for a better deal for local governments and our communities across the nation. Your voices have been heard, and your efforts recognised.

Onwards to the Federal Election!

Linda Scott,
ALGA President